How Effective Are Portable Fire Extinguishers?
Fire has been the bane of urban society since the dawn of civilization. Before the 19th Century, cities were often left to burn down. This all changed when large cities created professional fire departments. However, even today, emergency services still take time to arrive – and it’s those precious minutes that can turn an inconvenience into a tragedy.
This is why the fire sprinkler industry is so critical for life safety. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) requires a certain number and type of portable fire extinguishers to exist within all businesses throughout New York City.. Each extinguisher must be tagged and appropriate for the most likely source of fire in the immediate area. But how effective are they, really?
What Are the Facts?
The National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED) conducted surveys to ascertain the real-world effectiveness of portable extinguishers. The results show that, when used properly, hand-held extinguishers were capable of extinguishing fires approximately 95% of the time – and could often suppress the fire in the other cases. In 72% of all cases, a single extinguisher was used.
In the NAFED surveys, the users of the extinguishers were untrained civilians. Also, these statistics probably underestimate the true effectiveness, whereas the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that approximately 90% of household fires are not reported, meaning that they were extinguished immediately at the source.
How Should You Use Them?
The first rule in using fire extinguishers is safety. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the fire getting out of control — leave immediately. Otherwise, grab the extinguisher, pull the safety pin and aim at the base of the flames. Squeeze the handle and sweep from side to side as necessary.
Each extinguisher has different types of chemical fire retardants and FDNY regulations require the appropriate type of chemicals to be located near certain sources of possible ignition. The label on the fire extinguisher will indicate which type of combustible for which it is intended. Most combustibles fall under the category known as ‘ABC’ — including a wide variety of suppression capabilities.
What if It Doesn’t Put the Fire Out?
No problem! The goal using fire extinguishers isn’t necessarily to put out the fire, it’s to suppress and contain the fire for you and the occupants of the building to get out safely until the fire department arrives. Once first responders are on scene, and if the fire has been isolated to a small area, they’ll be able to immediately extinguish it and start clearing out the smoke.
How Do You Keep Your Extinguishers in Working Condition?
All facilities throughout the five boroughs of NYC require a specific number of portable fire extinguishers based on the size and layout of the facility as well as the commodities being stored, manufactured or sold. These extinguishers must also be inspected by a licensed and certified company.
Allstate Sprinkler is licensed and certified by the FDNY as well as approved by the Department of Buildings as a Master Fire sprinkler contractor. For over 50 years, we’ve sold, inspected, installed, tested and serviced fire protection equipment for the greater New York area. We’ve built our business on our reputation and dedication to fire safety.
Our full time staff of more than 130 employees are prepared and certified to help you keep your building(s) safe. We maintain all inspection records digitally for immediate accessibility and can quickly resolve any violations you may receive.